Does drinking alcohol impact on fertility pregnancy?
For both men and women, excessive alcohol intake causes free radicals to flood the body (104), disrupting its proper functioning and damaging egg and sperm production. It also impairs the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals, and zinc.
In men, alcohol damages sperm and affects hormone secretion. It acts directly on the testes, lowering the levels of testosterone and increasing the levels of the female hormone, oestrogen. As a result, sex drive goes down and sperm production (spermatogenesis) is impaired. Excessive alcohol intake is also a common cause of impotence and infertility, and studies have shown that if men drink more than 20 units of alcohol a week (which equates to less than three units per day) it lowers sperm count and increases the incidence of poor motility and morphology (56), and as a result doubles the length of time it takes for their partner to conceive.
Women who have an excessive alcohol intake can suffer from the absence of periods (amenorrhoea – 34) or ovulation disorders. In addition, pregnant women who consume more than 14 units a week, particularly during the all-important first trimester (see pages 172-74), have an increased risk of miscarriage, pregnancy complications, and of having a baby with fetal abnormalities.
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